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The Buzz

A Beerfly's view. If you see anything here that seems crazy, click here.

Fresh Buzz

Vintage Buzz

2007 Buzz

Jan. '07: Best of 2006

2006 Buzz

Dec. '06: 10 Predictions

Nov. '06: Cold November Rain

Oct. '06: Just Because You Can

Sept. '06: It's Worth It

August '06: Messin' With Us

July '06: Break the Chains

June '06: Viva El Hefe!

May '06: Just Like Wine

Apr. '06: Mixed Messages

Mar. '06: We Print the Truth

Feb. '06: The Fairer Sex

Jan. '06: Best of 2005

2005 Buzz

Dec. '05: Look at Me Drink!

Nov. '05: Malt Monsters

Oct. '05: Sweetness

Sep. '05: When to Fold

Aug. '05: Little Nightmares

July '05: American Spirit

June '05: Miller Time 

May. '05: Breathing Beer 

April '05: Now It's Personal

Mar. '05: 7% Ain't Enough

Feb. '05: Down to 18 

Jan. '05: Best of 2004 

2004 Buzz

Dec. '04: Joys of the Dark 

Nov. '04: The Next Store 

Oct. '04: Beer's Image 

Sept. '04: Clearly Insane 

August '04: Love of Lager

July '04: Speak Up!

June '04: Get Drafted

May '04: Shedding Tiers

April '04: Keg Party

March '04: Ultra Madness

February '04: Case Law

January '04: Best of 2003

2003 Buzz

Dec. '03: Wine good!

Nov. '03: Say Anything

Oct. '03: Shots at Saveur

Sept. '03: Pay For It!

August '03: Subtlety

July '03: RIP, Corner Bar

June '03: Screw 'Em!

May '03: Extreme Beer?

April '03: Liquor Taxes

March '03: St. Patrick's

February '03: Coffee

January '03: Taxes


February, 2007

The Session Beer Project

There’s been a lot said, written, and blogged about "extreme beers" recently. The history and hagiography of extreme beers has been explored, with exciting revelations and controversies. The definition of just what "extreme beer" is has been hashed over with revealing self-awareness and an amusing amount of plausible denial. Extreme beer has been explained to the masses in a number of places, implying that the writers have inferred that the masses give a damn.

And, of course, reams of words have been written in review of these beers individually, usually hot, gushing words of drooling praise. "The first smell is a citrus-and-floral hop slam that says "indeed, you are afraid of this beer, weakling."" "Thicker than any other beer that I have sampled in my life." "Complex as all hell with a huge mouthfeel."

I’m not copying those here to make fun of them. I'm just using them as examples. But when guys like me, beer writers, the guys with a bigger public forum than your average blogger or website critic, spend all our time talking about the latest huge monster beer, it has impact.

Maybe too much. "My view is that skewed attention is bad for beer diversity and simply irresponsible journalism. There is plenty that is noteworthy about a Munich dunkel to a beer-curious reader. Does the beer media need to take their stylistic cues from National Enquirer? Only if they are not thinking. Big picture, guys!" That’s Bill Covaleski, of Victory Brewing, as quoted by me almost 4 years ago.

Time to get self-aware and plausibly deny things. We write about extreme beers for a very simple reason: they’re news. They’re new, they’re different, they’re eye-opening, and they’re far from the same-old-same-old.

We don’t generally write about "session beers" for much the same reasons. A new brown ale is "just another brown ale," the 895th batch of a brewery’s pale ale – even though it’s selling like crazy – is no more newsworthy than the 894th batch was. Like I always say about Budweiser, everyone’s had it, everyone’s already got an opinion – where’s my angle?

Here's a new angle. I always blamed this problem on editors. The editor doesn't want to hear it, the editor doesn't have room to print it, the editor is a bonehead. But I'm the editor here. If I want to talk about session beers, I can. If I want to talk about them a lot, and praise the ones that have been out on the market for years -- and are therefore not 'newsworthy -- I can do that. 

And I am. I've finally given in to the Internet and created a blog: I call it Seen Through a Glass. I'm going to use it to put up quick thoughts, reports, and pictures. I'm going to use it when I'm on the road, because with Blogger, I can access my blog anywhere in the world and update it. But most of all, at least for a while, I'm going to use it for The Session Beer Project. 

Session beers get no press? Well, here's one place where they will. I haven't been doing tasting notes here on the site, partially because it's a pain in the butt. Write it, format it, save it, upload it, archive it, upload it again...every time I open a beer, every time I crack a bottle of bourbon? No, sorry, too much like work. 

But this Blogger stuff... That's easy. Open the site, type in a title and a paragraph on the beer, hit "Publish," and it's there, baby. I've got four posts up already, and I just started the thing around lunchtime. That'll drop off, of course, but for now, I feel re-invigorated. I'm going to do something about this lack of love for session beers.

What I'm going to do is write. Reviews of session beers I've had (I've got one up now). Mini-rants about session beers and extreme beers. Short tales of good sessions and the good beers that made them possible. Thoughts on trends in craft brewing: ABV creep, hop insanity, barrels, bugs, and age. Thoughts on innovation.

And maybe a report on someone's 895th batch of pale ale. 

You can help. Write comments on my blogging. Tell us what your favorite session beers are, and why. Start your own damned session beer blog. Find good session beers and love them, and don't take crap from anyone about drinking them. Chances are there are a lot of folks like you, drinking those beers. Break out the cards and deal me in; we've got folks who need to know about the beauty of session beers. Starting today, I'm in. 


Copyright © 2008 Lew Bryson. All rights reserved. 
Fee required for reprints in any commercial media.
Revised: March 01, 2007